The Town of Smithers is looking into ways to become more business friendly.
At the regular May 28 council meeting, councillors Mark Bandstra and Charlie Northrup asked staff to look into how other communities in the region deal with new developments to see if changes could be made to make Smithers more open to business.
The direction was in response to a story in the May 15 issue of The Interior News in which Smithers developer and business owner Kim Tran highlighted some roadblocks he encountered in building the Sunshine Inn and Estates hotel as well as in his current residential development.
Specifically, Tran mentioned the more than 100 per cent deposits required for off-site work as being one reason he will look to other communities first when considering his next development project.
“I don’t say I won’t do any commercial business here but it’s not likely I will,” Tran told The Interior News.
“First you round up the money to try to put the project together, which is hard enough, then you have to put down a deposit?”
The District of Houston, for example, withheld Tran’s occupancy permit until he finished the off-site work instead of asking him to come up with a couple of hundred thousand dollars in security when he built a hotel there recently.
Planner Adam Cseke explained The Town of Smithers requires a 110 per cent security deposit for off-site works in commercial developments and in residential projects, a 120 per cent security deposit is held for off-site works and a 100 per cent security deposit is needed for landscaping.
“The rationale is if the developers don’t do what they say they’re going to do, then the town can take the money and do it themselves,” Cseke said.
Bandstra said he thought it would be worthwhile for staff to find out what other communities are doing in similar situations.
“I was hoping we would hear back from staff on what other communities do and what’s required,” Bandstra said.
“I understand the reason for a deposit, it’s to protect our interests but at the same time, I’d like to hear the full story.
“I’m just looking for some more information.”